The Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s Poem “Pain”

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Updated: Mar 31, 2023
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Poetry is considered to be an intuitive form of expression or writing style where one can express feelings in a rhythmic pattern. And, of course, pain, or even the generalized thought of pain, can be such a crippling feeling to anyone, pending on the level that it falls within. Within poetry, the genre of pain can be utilized as a platform to write within and can also provide a healing experience for the poet. Many poets use this genre brilliantly within their works.

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One poet that comes to mind within the topic considering immense feelings within writing is Emily Dickinson. Her actions fall between the realms of modernism and dark romanticism in regard to the nature of the human mind and body. The poem called pain has an element of blankness, discussing the major themes found within this specific piece, purpose, and providing an overall feeling gathered from the poem. And considering many other aspects that make this poem meaningful and include depth within these powerful words.

Within this poem, Dickinson refers to different aspects of pain, one being a timeless account with its ever-dominating presence over someone. The alliteration found within this specific piece highlights the pain and its depth within the past, present, and future representations of the poem itself. Pain can consume one’s life, not realizing the detrimental effects one may struggle with after the fallout.

Ultimately becoming the pain one is referencing. Within the first stanza of this poem, the
pain is so intense that one can feel as if they had never experienced such pain before throughout their lives.

“Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there was
A time when it was not.”
(Lines 1-4, Dickinson)

Implying that there has never been a time when one wasn’t suffering from pain, a time when one can’t remember peace within themselves. Personalizing the pain within itself, and focusing on just that, the overall aspect of the pain. The first line mentions an “element of blank” (Line 1), describing the emptiness found within the pain and maybe even within life itself. Creating essential viewpoints on the aspects of pain itself and how it can develop.

Within the second stanza, the lines begin to break down the thought of how pain resides within the past, present, and future of ourselves. Pain can go deep, and how it can be a constant within our lives and become a permanent presence. The pain is so intense that it absorbs the entirety of life and other feelings that should reside within that life. Existing within all realms of time, ultimately slowing down the concept of time and how it passes as well as emphasizing time as before, during, and after the effect of the pain.

“It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
It’s past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.”
(Lines 5-8, Dickinson)

Pain found within this poem is given relevance to its meaning, stemming from the viewpoint of pain as if depersonalizing one to explain just the single definition of the pain itself. Dickinson touches on the concept of pain and defines it quite well within one’s self and the theory within this poem that pain is in of itself something or even a being of sorts. Her poems dive deep into the thoughts that premises pain develops an identity within itself. This poem is loaded with intense feelings to the point where no one person is specifically related to the pain, providing more meaning for it and the havoc it reeks.

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The Analysis of Emily Dickinson's Poem "Pain". (2023, Mar 31). Retrieved from